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Are e-cigarettes harmful?

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It takes approx. 4 minutes to read this article

The popularity of electronic cigarettes is growing at the expense of traditional tobacco products. Is it healthier for our body? What are the risks of switching to such products?

Where did electronic cigarettes come from?

It turns out that their history is not very long. They were developed in 2003 in China. This was done by a pharmacist Hon Lik. This gadget quickly became a real hit and was also introduced to Poland. Behind their popularity is the belief that they do little harm to health. The truth is a bit more complicated: e-cigarettes do harm, but not as much as traditional ones.

What does an e-cigarette consist of?

Such a device is made of a mouthpiece, a battery and a heating element (clearomizer). The battery supplies power to the heater, which produces vapor (aerosol). The vapor is inhaled through the mouthpiece. That is why, in practice, e-cigarettes are referred to as vaping rather than smoking

What substances are contained in the aerosol inhaled when smoking an e-cigarette?

It is noted that the primary reason for the development of this device was to reduce the inhalation of high amounts of nicotine and tar substances, which contribute to the formation of cancer. To a large extent, this intention has been successful. The aerosol in an electronic cigarette consists primarily of:

  • propylene glycol,
  • glycerine,
  • flavorings,
  • nicotine in any concentration.
Photo: Elsa Donald/Unsplash

Smoking an electronic cigarette versus a traditional one – what are the differences?

While there are thousands of harmful compounds in tobacco smoke, there are at most a few dozen in an aerosol. Temperature is important – higher temperature makes more breakdown products of harmful base compounds

Until recently, it was questionable whether glycol and glycerine inhaled for many years would not negatively affect human health. Doubts originated from the fact that these substances are not absorbed during traditional smoking. Electronic cigarettes, on the other hand, are quite new devices – at the beginning nobody knew the full picture of the effects caused by smoking them

However, years later, it became clear that glycerin and glycol do not cause significant side effects. Electronic cigarettes also put the smoker at less risk for heart and lung disease.

What about nicotine and heavy metals?

Of course, the liquid contained in the e-cigarette contains mainly flavorings and nicotine. In this case, however, we can more or less easily choose its content. Nicotine itself, although addictive, is not carcinogenic. Harmful substances in this case include, among others, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde

Unfortunately, there are also harmful heavy metals in the aerosol, which are formed, for example, because the heater is made of metal. However, the advantage is that there are far fewer such compounds in e-cigarettes than in traditional ones

Are e-cigarettes harmful?

It should definitely be emphasized that they are harmful. It is therefore better for our health to refrain from smoking altogether. However, if we already have to decide, e-cigarettes will be more safe than traditional tobacco smoke

They will certainly not be a good option for pregnant women and must not be smoked by minors – due to the nicotine content. There are, of course, nicotine-free liquids on the market, but even so, this type of smoking will not be without impact on the health of a young person.

Do e-cigarettes help to quit?

Opinions are divided. Most often, a person tries to switch from traditional to electronic smoking. It is much less common for someone to start with an e-cigarette and then switch to traditional smoking

However, some people may be more predisposed to fall into nicotine addiction. In this case, the e-cigarette may appear as a less dangerous alternative to smoking

Photo Credit: Chiara Summer/Unsplash

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